Hyped over the fact that our passion had made it onto the big screen and avid fans of the Cube franchise, we were so excited when Sony announced the release of the film. However, with the preview showcasing flames, frozen lakes, and a tagline of “escape or die”, we were nervous that the plotline would only further the misconception of escape rooms being terrifying Saw-like experiences. Well, it turned out that the movie was about an elaborate plot to lure six strangers together and have them play for their lives, but we definitely enjoyed it nonetheless.
The film overall, never seemed to take itself too seriously. Which to us, made it an enjoyable and funny experience. Each character had an established trope. Their backstories and motivations were made evident as the film progressed, revealing that their darkest demons had been tapped into, having each room designed to play to their weaknesses. This added layer was about as complex as the storylines got.
One of the best aspects was the level of industry references in which the movie gave nods to. For starters, the character pegged as the overly-excited enthusiast was a crowd-favorite among us. His nerdy rants about immersion along with his tireless explaining of how to work through the rooms had us feeling super self-aware and we couldn’t help but laugh, thinking “wow, this is definitely me”.
We also loved the shout-outs to some of our favorite companies, including THE BASEMENT and the level in which we were able to follow each new room’s arcs. We enjoyed working through the puzzles and loved the creativity that each room had in terms of themes.
As enjoyable as it was, the movie certainly wasn’t without its faults. Even going into it knowing that it would reach a level of silliness, it got to the point where the deaths of each main character became quite formulaic and almost uneventful. It all built up to a probably unnecessary third act that seemed to drag on with uneven pacing. It seemed to shift the focus to perhaps setting up a sequel even at the expense of logical character development. Yet, at the end of the day, no crime was greater than the repeated use of “Games Master”…
Escape Room is no recreation of the wheel. Much like the torture-puzzle room films that it was compared to, it follows a trajectory of some faceless person mysteriously working to kill off a group of characters. It sets itself apart through its industry references, creatively themed puzzles, and adorable mocking of shameless enthusiasts. Would recommend.